The word ‘revival’ is used to explain the amazing results of a sovereign outpouring of the Spirit of God, when people are saved and communities are changed and become God-fearing.
Firstly, the church gets on fire for God, as the Holy Spirit revives the body of Christ. Secondly, the Holy Spirit convicts the souls of non-Christians, (who become awakened), and shows them their sinfulness and their need of the Saviour, Jesus Christ.
During revival people have an awareness of spiritual things as they never had before; there is a solemn awe of God, a reverence and holy fear.
Frequently in revival, people are saved outside of the church and are overcome by the power of the Holy Spirit, at home, on the streets, at work or in the fields. Some of whom without ever coming into contact with a Christian who has been revived!
There is a huge difference between effective evangelism and revival, though we can all rejoice over just one sinner saved. Evangelist, revivalist and world renown revival historian J. Edwin Orr expressed it well, when he said, “In times of evangelism, the evangelist seeks the sinner, in times of revival the sinners come chasing after the Lord.”
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “Revival is an experience in the life of the Church when the Holy Spirit does an unusual work. He does that work primarily amongst the members of the Church; it is a reviving of the believers. You cannot revive something that has never had life…They are humbled, they are convicted of sin…and then they come to see the great salvation of God in all its glory and to feel its power. Then, as a result of their quickening, they begin to pray. New power comes into the preaching of the ministers and the result of this is that large numbers who were previously outside the Church are converted and brought in.”
Evangelist Seth Joshua, who was used extensively in Wales in bringing souls to Christ (and especially during the 1904-1905 Welsh Revival) stated in a lecture: ‘The world owes everything to the Church and the Church owes everything to revival.’
If we want to see revival, then each of us needs to be revived and to pray for revival. But before we can be revived we need to repent of all known sin and deal with the past, because ‘he who covers his sin will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes will find mercy’ (Proverbs 28:13).
The Lord said: “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).